Humor + Workplace = Strong Team

Work is, well work…for most of us it is not all fun and games. Even people who do “fun”for a living have stress, anxiety and conflict at work. Can you imagine how stressful it is to do a standup comedy routine or be a party clown? Makes accounting look like child’s play!

I don’t advocate taking the “work” out of your office (you would most probably go out of business) but rather finding ways to put some fun into every day. How you and your team define fun is the first step. Here are a few suggestions that may help:

•  Create an atmosphere where camaraderie can flourish. Genuine kindness and friendliness most often set the tone for a more relaxed office attitude. Friends joke around with each other, work colleagues…not so much.

•  Encourage everyone to share funny things: cartoons, antidotes, silly things clients or kids have said. One CEO I know starts every meeting with a funny story. His staff feels absolutely free to cheer or jeer, and even pass on stories for him to share. All tasteful and G rated, he never wants to alienate anyone with possibly offensive material.

•  Silliness can be appropriate. Sometimes you just gotta be goofy!

Some of the funniest people I know in accounting (that is NOT an oxymoron) are also some of the savviest managers I know. They all understand that creating great teams means fostering trust, respect, support, communication –some of the same skills comedians use!

One of my workshops, Building Stronger Teams by Using Improvisational Comedy, is all about creating strong teams through humor and improvisation. It isn’t rock science but it does take commitment and a bit of work. And a commitment to letting personality and humor into your office.

My friend and colleague, Judy Carter, wrote about the 5 Steps to Bring Humor Back to the Workplace. She shares comedy tips that can help every office or work setting. Check out her article for more ideas. Judy is a great source of inspiration and has been a great coach in helping me develop my business –thanks, Judy!

Busy Season Stress Buster: Laughter!

images-1They say laughter is the best medicine. Not sure who “they” are, but I do know why this is true. When you can see things in a humorous way you will be able to lighten up, have fun, release the endolphins* – those crazy fish that swim through your blood stream and help you deal with stress, anxiety, and depression.  Your day will be brighter and you’ll have a positive impact on those around you.

Researchers have studied the effects that laughter has on the body and have turned up some interesting information on how it affects us.  One thing is that laughter helps to increase our blood flow because the blood vessels expand and contract easily there by sending the appropriate amount of blood to our brains and organs.  Those who are under stress, their blood vessels tense up thereby restricting blood flow to the brain which creates costly mistakes and errors.

Researchers have also found that laughter helps to boost our levels of immune cells where stress does just the opposite.  We get sicker quicker, come to work sick because of our workload, get others in our office sick because of their low levels of immune cells, and the next thing you know – productivity is in the Kleenex box.

Researchers have also found that laughter helps in the fight against diabetes.  Laughter helps in reducing the blood sugar in your body, and I should know because I am a diabetic.

Studies have found that children laugh over a 100 times a day but when they matriculate into the workforce that laughter rate drops to about 5 times a day. Not surprisingly, once we retire laughter rates increase.

Laughter also helps to boost office morale. So when was the last time people in your office were laughing…and it wasn’t at your expense?  Why aren’t we laughing at work when we see that laughter has a lot of health benefits?

For many of us, this busy season can bring stressful situations at home and at work. Find the humor in situations, be silly, share a harmless joke. Let the endolphins swim around.

*Full disclosure: I know that it is the endorphins, but I really prefer thinking of the endolphins. It makes me smile, and that’s a good thing! Oh, and I know that dolphins are mammals not fish but they are great swimmers. Besides, it’s my story and I’m sticking with it!